|"The White Queen" Henry Tudor|
As “The White Queen” series wrapped up, as usual, I had to watch the finale about four times to take in all of the details before making up my mind what inspired me the most about the series. Overall, I found it enjoyable as well as Ms. Gregory’s books. As we fans tweeted about our obsession from one episode to the next, I’ll gently remind the historians: We know it isn’t actual history. Now, may we all sit and enjoy the show and the rest of you use the remote.
On Twitter, the most popular character amongst the crowd I interacted with clearly was Richard III, played by non-ugly ace young actor Aneurin Barnard. While I like cute actors as much as the next girl, I think the complexity of his character from loyal/boyish love/good husband/villain/murderer/cheater/loser reeled in the audience, which was mostly women, I suspect. But that is part of the fantasy; to bring history to life, and toss in enough sympathy and good looks to interest the viewers, then watch the downfall.
After my fourth viewing of the finale, like all stories, it’s not the cute guys; it’s the characters that stay with me. As Phillipa Gregory shined light upon the women during that time, she also reminded us that war, the bloodshed, is men’s work. Regardless of who’s in the right, or in the wrong, the most ambitious, the cleverest or the most naïve of women they have no say when steel hits steel and rules are thrown out and the last man standing will be the King.
So for some analysis: Richard had it all. Let’s assume he didn’t kill the Princes in the Tower. Still, he had a strong following in the north of England, the Yorks were still powerful, Wales leaned toward him, and he was a veteran soldier and skilled at putting down rebellious nobles like Buckingham and loyal in laws and innocent nephews (he put Antony Rivers and Richard Grey to death), so he didn’t have much to fear from an unknown invader with an unknown last name. On the personal side, with the death of his wife and son, he had plenty nearby to soften the blow of non-loss to him, favoring his niece from her famously fertile mother to be his next queen. When one has pure confidence does one need faith?
Enter Henry Tudor, a young man with a prisoner-hired army with only his uncle Jasper and his pious, insane mother to support him. I found myself moved in the series when he landed in Wales and scooped up the sand and I realized all he had was faith. Instead of running, he and his uncle took a deep breath and went to battle, and their faith was rewarded by wild card Stanley. Richard’s lack of faith was rewarded by being pulled off his horse by footmen and being hacked to death, stripped naked and his crown handed to Henry Tudor.
“The Prince,” written after this time, teaches that power must be taken completely so nothing is left to chance. Faith is not a Machiavellian trait, even when such are people of the cloth. While we viewers are sympathetic to Richard, we watch him lose his way. Faith is when you look and see nothing and still keep going. Our ancestors risked their lives with nothing but faith that so we are free today. This story serves us as a reminder.